Daniel Libeskind dismisses "totally false
allegations" of unlawful payments


Daniel Libeskind dismisses allegations of unlawful payments from Leuphana University

News: architect Daniel Libeskind has refuted allegations that he was given an unfair advantage and received unlawful payments for designing a new building at the Leuphana University of Lüneburg in Germany, where he is also a part-time professor.

The allegations, printed in the German press last week, claim that there were irregularities in the way the project was awarded to Libeskind, as well as irregularities in reimbursements for his work.

Leuphana University has threatened to take legal action against the publications and today issued a statement saying the allegations are "unsubstantiated".

"We categorically refute these allegations", said university spokesperson Henning Zühlsdorff. "Daniel Libeskind was not granted any unlawful advantages nor were competitors given a disadvantage."

"The allegations that are made through the press are allegations which we refute as false," Nina Libeskind told Dezeen. "The contracts between the university and professor Libeskind were contracts that were publicly registered and were passed through the parliament. How we could be any more official or legal than that, we don't know."

Daniel Libeskind was awarded the commission to design a new building for Leuphana University to house an auditorium, lecture theatres and student offices in 2007, around the same time he joined the university as a visiting professor.

Nina Libeskind told Dezeen that the program for the building was developed by Libeskind in a seminar with students at the university before plans were submitted to the ministry of science and culture. "There were a whole series of seminars which were conducted and on the basis of that, the building was designed," she explained. "As a professor working with the students, he designed the building... I think that's why it wasn't put out to tender."

A spokesperson from the European Union's anti-fraud office (OLAF) told Dezeen that the organisation has recommended action be taken by the commission directorate-general for regional policy and urban development (DG REGIO) to clarify the way EU funding has been spent in relation to the building.

The total cost of the project is €60,000,000, with the state of Lower Saxony contributing €21,000,000 and the European Union contributing €12,480,000.

The building is due for completion in August 2015.

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The statement below is from Leuphana University:

Allegations of Unlawful Acceptance of Benefits by Daniel Libeskind Unsubstantiated

Lüneburg. Leuphana University of Lüneburg unequivocally rejects all allegations of irregularities in the award procedure in relation to Daniel Libeskind and reimbursements of services rendered by him and his office. According to the university’s legal interpretation those accusations are groundless and irresponsible. We also wish to state that we are extremely appreciative of Daniel Libeskind’s contributions to the work of the university.

Contrary to recent media coverage of an as yet unreleased and confidential report prepared by OLAF, the European Anti-Fraud Office, neither Mr. Libeskind nor his office received any unlawful payments.

"We categorically refute these allegations", stated university spokesperson Henning Zühlsdorff. He added that, following the university's instigation of legal proceedings against numerous members of the press, many of them have already agreed to issue retractions or corrections.

The process of retaining and paying both Mr. Libeskind and his practice have been conducted in accordance with the law. For his work as a part-time professor at Leuphana University, Mr. Libeskind receives an annual salary of approximately 50.000 Euro pre-tax. Studio Daniel Libeskind, Mr. Libeskind’s architectural practice, was retained by the university solely to provide advice on the design of the new central university building.

Says Zühlsdorff: "Daniel Libeskind was not granted any unlawful advantages nor were competitors given a disadvantage."

  • Getoverit

    What’s going on Dezeen? Trying to rebrand yourself as the gossip rag for architecture?

    Just kidding. But there’s been a lot of scandalizing headlines recently.

  • Chris

    Any payment for a Libeskind building should be unlawful.

  • Johann

    Who cares about the procurement process. Daniel Libeskind should be dragged through the courts (and through the mud), for designing an ugly piece of crap.

  • Labrouste

    So, Libeskind gets paid EU 50,000 to be a professor at Leuphana, and he uses the students to design and draw up the concept, and then he charges an EXTRA architectural fee on top of that?

  • LoCalYoghurt

    Nina Libeskind told Dezeen: “As a professor working with the students, he designed the building … I think that’s why it wasn’t put out to tender.”

    Well that’s a very wishy washy answer! It doesn’t sound very convincing to me. Why can’t she be more definitive?

  • mindgame

    I absolutely don’t care about architects’ personalities. Please, post only architecture related content, if there is no big news fill the gap with student works or design history articles.

    • dromberg

      Luckily nobody gives a flying f*rt what you want to be the content of this website.

  • Sanjit Purna

    Leuphana University made two mistakes. 1. They paid Libeskind for design services. 2. They paid him to teach. I would not pay Libeskind to sweep floors in an architect’s office.

  • Dirk

    These accusations are unsubstantiated. Don’t see why Dezeen is carrying them unless it has an agenda of its own?

    • ber

      If the EU anti fraud office sees a reason to investigate, “unsubstantiated” is probably the wrong description.

  • Zone 4

    Libeskind actually charges fees to design those ludicrous buildings with his clichéd trapezoids and silly windows?

  • Lee Corbusier

    Vocabulary police: “Refute” means to “disprove with evidence”. That has not yet happened. Therefore the opening sentence of this article and the statement contained within are inaccurate.

  • WireFrame

    Nina Libeskind seems to be acknowledging the project did not go out to tender (“bid”). There’s the problem right there. All EU-funded work is supposed to be competitively bid.

  • Kenneth Smythe

    Mediocrity gets its deserved attention.